Ernie Q on casing, pressing, and blending

lowercaseG

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A pastry chef friend of mine used @Ernie Q ’s crash course at the top of this thread and added a few of his own ideas to make whole leaf plugs. The results have been absolutely fantastic, he’s done a straight VA, a VaPer, and a VaPerOr so far. If the straight Va and the VaPer were commercially available I would be stacking pounds in the cellar, they are that good. Thanks @Ernie Q , your generosity in sharing your hard-learned knowledge is spreading tobacco cheer far and wide!

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Holy Mary! Mother of God! How can you resist just eating that like a candy bar?
 

Ernie Q

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@Ernie Q, would you share your thoughts on toasting, particularly burleys?
I don’t do it here in the shop as I can get toasted Burley easily, but there are specific temps which need to be adhered to. I think Burley is somewhere around 250 f. Now I have done this before but you need to make damned sure you are right at or slightly below 250 because if not you will fill the room with acrid smoke. It’s NASTY.
Don’t toast dry tobacco. Case it first or at least make sure it’s evenly moist...right at smoking level. I really don’t remember how long it takes. I usually go by smell. When it smells like brownies baking it’s done.
 

tfdickson

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I gave this one a whirl myself today, 3 different VA blends using various off the shelf blending tobaccos (one of which I stoved myself) and a casing I put together using @Ernie Q ’s tips and some consultation with @MonClaude Ganzdam . I blended the tobacco, heated it, then applied (warmed) casing with a spray bottle. Mix, spray, mix, spray, etc. I‘ll let them rest for a couple of days and then give it a light press via the Food Saver vacuum seal. I thought that might help it meld. I’ll leave it that way for 10 days or so and then break them back up into ribbons and start taste testing. Fun stuff!
 

tfdickson

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I gave this one a whirl myself today, 3 different VA blends using various off the shelf blending tobaccos (one of which I stoved myself) and a casing I put together using @Ernie Q ’s tips and some consultation with @MonClaude Ganzdam . I blended the tobacco, heated it, then applied (warmed) casing with a spray bottle. Mix, spray, mix, spray, etc. I‘ll let them rest for a couple of days and then give it a light press via the Food Saver vacuum seal. I thought that might help it meld. I’ll leave it that way for 10 days or so and then break them back up into ribbons and start taste testing. Fun stuff!

Rest is done, now heated up and into the light press via Food Saver. Tin here for size reference:

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I don’t do it here in the shop as I can get toasted Burley easily, but there are specific temps which need to be adhered to. I think Burley is somewhere around 250 f. Now I have done this before but you need to make damned sure you are right at or slightly below 250 because if not you will fill the room with acrid smoke. It’s NASTY.
Don’t toast dry tobacco. Case it first or at least make sure it’s evenly moist...right at smoking level. I really don’t remember how long it takes. I usually go by smell. When it smells like brownies baking it’s done.
So, I stove my whole leaf by using a pressure cooker. My method and reasoning are... I will take a measured amount of whole leaf and place it snuggly into a 1 pint mason jar, let's say 100 grams. I'll then add about 10%(no more than that) distilled water into the jar so that there is adequate moisture to cook evenly. I puncture the metal lid in several places so it's holy, place it on the jar and tighten down the ring. I then carefully place a square of aluminum foil over the lid and press it neatly flush all over. This creates a moisture barrier without the dangers of exploding the jar. Then pressure cook, as you do, for 4 hours... this 15psi and steam moisture within the cooker put the temperature right at 250*F. I've done 2 hours, but prefer the 4 hour stuff... after 4 hours I let it cool ALL THE WAY down to room temperature (often overnight). This allows the moisture to equalize within each jar. Once cool and relaxed, I'll weigh the stoved leaf and air dry it back to the original weight. Then case it as I use it. Viola! Ernie, how am I doing? 😁🤘
 

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So, I stove my whole leaf by using a pressure cooker. My method and reasoning are... I will take a measured amount of whole leaf and place it snuggly into a 1 pint mason jar, let's say 100 grams. I'll then add about 10%(no more than that) distilled water into the jar so that there is adequate moisture to cook evenly. I puncture the metal lid in several places so it's holy, place it on the jar and tighten down the ring. I then carefully place a square of aluminum foil over the lid and press it neatly flush all over. This creates a moisture barrier without the dangers of exploding the jar. Then pressure cook, as you do, for 4 hours... this 15psi and steam moisture within the cooker put the temperature right at 250*F. I've done 2 hours, but prefer the 4 hour stuff... after 4 hours I let it cool ALL THE WAY down to room temperature (often overnight). This allows the moisture to equalize within each jar. Once cool and relaxed, I'll weigh the stoved leaf and air dry it back to the original weight. Then case it as I use it. Viola! Ernie, how am I doing? 😁🤘
So I forgot to ask... couldn't you toast Burley like that without the stress of making a specific crucial temperature mistake? I haven't messed with Burley at all.... yet 😏
 

Lee D

^ not me
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So I forgot to ask... couldn't you toast Burley like that without the stress of making a specific crucial temperature mistake? I haven't messed with Burley at all.... yet 😏
I did some oven toasting with 1 oz samples of burley (Mac Baren HH Burley Flake), at 250F, 275F, and 300F at 5 and 10 minutes in a preheated oven. I never noticed any foul odor at any temp, probably because HH Burley Flake has already been processed.

Uncovered on a preheated cookie sheet, even 5 min at 250 gives very dry tobacco. I got my favorite result by laying the tobacco on parchment paper, folding and creasing the paper to keep in moisture, wrapping that in a flat folded envelope of aluminum foil, laying it on the oven rack in a preheated oven, baking for 10 minutes at 250, then turning it off, leaving the oven door ajar and letting it cool for a couple of hours so the tobacco can reabsorb much of the moisture. 10 minutes may be too long if you are after a subtle change. My samples started passing Ernie's "smell test" after about 4 minutes.

Re: toasting in a pressure cooker: caramelization of sugars is one thing that can change flavor during toasting. Caramelization starts above 212F, so at normal pressure you have to drive enough water out to let the tobacco heat well beyond 212F for caramelization to occur. I don't know if 250F in a pressure cooker allows caramelization in the presence of plenty of water.

Of course there's little sugar in burley, so caramelization would be more important in Virginias or with burleys with casing added before toasting.
 

tfdickson

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@tfdickson how did your experiment turn out?

Pretty well, I’ve tried two of the three variations (different leaf combos, casing is the same for all). I’m going to let them marinate in semi-pressed form for a while longer and try again in a few weeks. It just goes to show everything is relative, if it weren’t for trying @MonClaude Ganzdam ’s amazing blends beforehand I’d consider it a huge success but my stuff isn’t quite in that league.
 
Toasting and Stoving are two different processes.

Heyyy, what did I say to deserve such a short non-answer? LOL :LOL: ... I apologize for any mis-wording in my previous question, allow me to elaborate.

Stoving vs. Toasting..... first my disclaimer, this is my opinion and understanding of what the two different processes mean, and it's a pipe smoking patissier's point of view who's done very little tobacco-specific research, so I could be miles off. Thank goodness for my mastery of food science :giggle:...

Stoving would be the process of slowly cooking the leaf at a low temperature to develop more character from the sugars that are present.
Toasting would be the brief heating (high or low heat) of the leaf to redistribute the tasty oils without developing the sugars at all.

Virginia's have a high (er) sugar content, and they benefit from the long stoving process where that sugar is cooked to a more complex and flavorful state. The Burley, however, would not benefit from a long "sugar cooking" process, as they have little to no sugar present. Burley would see a change, as would almost any vegetative produce, from a brief, controlled heating and redistributing of the essential and volatile oils that make up its flavor profile. Maybe the only way to enhance the burley, short of an infusion or addition. Again, these are all my amateur deductions and opinions, and i could be mistaken.

Now... the question :sneaky: .... Couldn't I "toast" the burley in the pressure cooker the same way I "stove" my virginia's?

I'm learning this stuff, but there are a few things i absolutely know... Your oven doesn't run at the temperature you think it does... i've seen as great as a 30 degree difference in either direction from the intended temperature on several home ovens. Unless you put a thermometer in your oven and actually test and calibrate it regularly, you're rolling the dice if you're trying to hit 250* exactly... you could be scorching them up closer to the 300 mark, or not doing anything at 210*. So, the main reason for my curiosity is to have absolute control over the temperature and moisture... Pressure cooking at 15psi will bring the temperature in your cooker to EXACTLY 250*F every single time... the magic number. As long as i can maintain a constant moisture within my jars (i can) I don't need to worry about the temperature or moisture at all. No worries about scorching or desiccating the leaf. Bring the pressure cooker to 15 psi, set a 15 minute timer... done.

Don't answer that question, I've just convinced myself to give it a whirl LOL... I'm convinced it could be done, with ease. .... I'll do some experimentation and report back with my findings.